Bob Uttley retires after 32-year stint in leading golf role

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BOB Uttley is retiring after a 32-year stint as a member of the Halifax-Huddersfield Union’s top brass.

Uttley will retire as Union treasurer at the annual meeting at Outlane GC on Tuesday, March 13.

The announcement that 78-year-old Uttley was stepping down was made at last week’s annual dinner at Bertie’s, Elland, and he received a framed flag from the 2010 Masters at Augusta, signed by winner Phil Mickleson and donated by Bradley Park head pro Parnell Reilly, who was captain of the PGA that year.

Uttley was taken aback by the presentation and the response of a packed banqueting hall. “To see the whole room stand up was something I never expected,” he said.

The Todmorden Golf Club stalwart plans to be around the Union’s hierarchy for another year at least to ease his successor into the job he has held since 1985.

Uttley still has business interests as a chartered accountant and company financial director.

He is also a keen Walsden and Todmorden cricket follower, president of the Calder Valley Search and Rescue team, a singer with Todmorden Choral Society and Todmorden St Mary’s Church Choir and a member of the Upper Calder Valley and St Mary’s Church walking groups.

Although he gave up playing two years ago, Uttley is still a life member and trustee at Todmorden Golf Club, Rive Rocks.

He joined the nine-hole track in 1960, when a cricket career which included spells with Todmorden, Bridgeholme and Walsden was still in progress, and got his handicap down to six.

He was captain in 1973, president at start of the 1990s and ground officer between 1974-1987.

He was instrumental in Todmorden joining the Union in 1975, with then captain Richard Crabtree, and has been a strong link ever since.

Uttley’s connection with the Search and Rescue Centre in Mytholmroyd is borne out of tragedy.

Bob and his German wife Hannelore, who live in Mankinholes, got together when she came to work as an au pair in Hebden Bridge.

They had two children, Andrea and Robert, but Robert was killed climbing Annapurna III in the Himalayas during a whiteout in 1983.

Robert had been a member of the Mytholmroyd group and Uttley has subsequently been the organisation’s president for the best part of 20 years, helping to raise £100,000 for a new rescue centre to house equipment and two ambulances.

Representative golf has taken off, with the players fully kitted out by the Union, and Uttley said better equipment has led to a plethora of very low handicap players.

“Players are getting better younger. There are 14 or 15-year-olds off one handicap whereas in my early days there was just the odd scratch player and a few more on two and three.”

Electric trolleys and the relaxation of dress codes are other signs of the times but Uttley believes behaviour of players continues to be good and that things have generally changed for the better.

He will retire with largely happy memories. “I have enjoyed the camaraderie and have made some long-lasting friendships,” he said.